The dew is still clinging to the Bibb lettuce; some of the strawberries still have a little silt. At the Sara Hardy Downtown Farmers Market (231-922-2050, downtowntc.com), it's from-the-earth fresh on Wednesdays and Saturdays, all summer long, Saturdays only in fall.
To get your market mentality revved up, head downtown early - the serious shoppers are up and at 'em right when the market opens - and swing into Good Harbor Coffee & Bakery (111 W. Front St., 231-935-4166) for a cool and creamy blended iced latte. The farmers market is a block away in the parking lot off Grandview Parkway between Union and Cass Streets. Grab your tote bag and start working your way down the line.
The vendors change from year to year, but you can always count on amazingly fresh goods. Urka Farms (231-477-5537, urkafarms.com) has quart baskets of brilliant red strawberries just waiting to top shortcake, cheesecake, hot cereal and sundaes. There's Bay Bread Co.'s pesto batard (601 Randolph St., 231-922-8022) - nab a chunky chocolate cookie to munch while you mosey on. Skegemog Gardens (141 W. State St., 231-929-4807) will stock your plot with sunny shasta daisies, bee balm, bellflowers and hosta.
Rapid City's Wildflower Soapworks (231-322-4029, wildflowersoapworks.com) has lotions and lip balms; owner Teresa Peck is there, cutting handmade soap in scents like sweet grass and lily of the valley. Feed your sweet tooth with a bag of Northern Seasons cherry chocolates (231-228-2156, northernseasons.com) or take home a jar of orange blossom honey courtesy of Great Lakes Bees, run by Bill and Millie Hathaway of Hath-a-Way Farm. Produce bag bulging? Score a seat and a sandwich at The Green House Café (115 E. Front St., 231-929-7687) - it's time to call it a morning.
Emily Bingham is assistant editor at Traverse, Northern Michigan's Magazine.
Note: This article was first published in April 2007 and was updated for the web February 2008.